Scottish islanders raise a stink over vast salmon graveyard

Industrial quantities of rotting diseased salmon are being ‘dumped in open landfill’, campaigners say

Leonie Chao-Fong
Thursday 27 May 2021 19:22

Huge quantities of diseased salmon from Scottish fish farms are being dumped in an open landfill on the Western Isles in contravention of environmental guidelines, campaigners have said.

Hundreds of thousands of unprocessed fish are being disposed of on a beach in North Uist by the firm Whiteshore Cockles, according to The Times.

The “secret salmon graveyard” is left to “stink to high heaven”, polluting the air for the local community, environmental activists claim.

In one video released by the group the Scottish Salmon Watch, fish are seen awaiting disposal with blood seeping out of a container near the crofting township of Kyles Paible.

Dan Staniford, the group’s director, said: “The authorities have turned a blind eye to the continued dumping of diseased farmed salmon in landfill at Whiteshore Cockles for well over a decade.

“Scotland’s secret salmon graveyard stinks to high heaven and must be shut down now.”

The paper said Whiteshore Cockles has admitted its methods had caused issues for the islanders.

“The current system of burying the fish waste has one major drawback,” the company wrote to Western Isles council.

“The fish are all kept outside while the burial area is being prepared, and if there is a southwest wind then odours can be prevalent within the local community.

“The pits are covered with several layers of seaweed to allow for the natural regeneration of the ground but again, till the waste has settled, there is always the risk of smells dispersing widely.”

Dead salmon that is dumped in open landfill sites can present a biosecurity risk, according to the animal rights group Peta.

The EU has urged the UK to comply with environmental legislation and raised concerns over the disposal of unprocessed fish in landfills on previous occasions, the paper said.

It said Whiteshore Cockles had been granted a temporary exemption in 2016 by the Scottish government to keep burying fish.

Although the firm’s owner, Angus MacDonald, had promised in 2018 to stop disposing of the carcasses in this method, three years later nothing had yet been done.

He said: “I really don’t want to be burying these fish, believe you me.

“I want to convert them into bio oil which is great for the environment.”

One environmental campaigner, Ewan Kennedy, said it was “extremely concerning” to learn that the diseased fish “dead from viruses” were being buried beneath sand dunes.

“It’s also concerning that post-Brexit there’s no possibility of the UK government facing the threat of enormous fines,” he added.

Western Isles Council said it was aware of the concerns around the facility.

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